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January 2016

"The real tragedy in Flint"

Former mayor of Saginaw, MI posts a clear explanation of the disaster in Flint. In short, there's enough blame to go around.

See also "Flint’s Blue Model Crisis," "Flint Is Not a Republican Scandal," and "The EPA’s Silent, Guilty Role in the Flint Water Crisis".

Not mentioned in any of the linked pieces: why did Detroit raise the rate it charged Flint? Was that also because of fiscal pressure?

Maybe not. See "The Flint Water Crisis Is the Result of a Stimulus Project Gone Wrong".


"It’s time to curb this widely committed journalistic sin"

I agree completely.

Just as often, though, that little word “widely” seems designed to appear to do the work of citation or argument without actually doing it. You can sense the author’s thought process: If he writes “U.S.-British relations are thought to be at their most strained in decades,” the obvious question is, “Thought by whom?” But if he inserts a “widely,” the problem somehow goes away. “U.S.-British relations are widely thought to be at their most strained in decades.” Ah, well, if it’s “widely” thought, it’s probably close to the truth.

Here's a related example: "America’s Rich Are Partying Like It’s 2006". What are the examples cited from "America's Rich"? The high purchase price of one Hermès Birkin bag--we don't even know, I think, that it was bought by an American--the high price of apartments in New York City, a high-priced donut in New York City, and the dopey decisions of one Martin Shkreli who, since he was indicted on securities fraud in New York federal court lives or works, I assume, in or near New York City.

At least in this article in Vanity Fair New York City apparently equals America. I didn't know that before.


"Questioning My Drug Libertarianism"

This is a good reason why I depart from my Libertarian friends on drug legalization.

Comfortingly, though, I also thought the negative consequences of legalization would be mild. I'm feeling less comfortable these days. . . . 

Drug addiction couldn't go up that much. The War on Drugs is an utter failure and drugs are widely and cheaply available anyway. Everyone knows that.

Well, reality is not lining up with this view of the world. In 1999, Americans had fatal drug overdoses at a rate of 6 per 100,000. In 2014, that number stood at 14.8 per 100,000 — a rise of 8.8 per 100,000. To put this in perspective, America's famously high homicide rate is about 5 per 100,000. And the overdose spike is apparently driven by a policy change much gentler than full legalization.

Related: "The Oxy Epidemic Shows What Happens When Addictive Drugs Are Easily Available".